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Environment and Sustainable Development:

On my way to Central park in the city I tuned in to the radio in my car. The advertisement playing had a small kid talking to his father. The kid expresses interest in buying a cycle when his father offers him a car. The reason he gives for the same should be an eye opener to the world. The kid says that when all the resources like petrol are consumed by the current generation, what the coming generations will be left with will be negligible. This is one problem the world is just unaware of and is showing a cold shoulder to. This short narrative introduces us to the topic of environment sustainability and sustainable development. These are two terms that are interchangeably used and are often regarded to mean the same. However, there is an understandable difference between the two. Let us start by knowing what the basic terms – environment and sustainable development – mean.

What is environment?

Environment refers to all the surroundings put together or the structure on the whole in which an individual lives or anything operates. It includes within its ambit all the life on earth and also all the resources. All the factors of the environment co-exist and are inter dependent and so influence each other. As defined in the Environment Act 1986,

‘Environment includes water, air, and land and the interrelationship which exists among and between water, air, land and human beings and other creatures, plants, microorganisms and property.’

If we closely observe the definition states about a lot of living as well as innate things. However, we can see that of the lot, it is the human being that is blessed by being given the capability to use all the resources to the best of his ability. It depends on how the he exploits the resources and makes use of them to the optimal extent.

How does the environment function?

The basic life on earth is much like a cycle. This life cycle is supported by the environment. The genetic waste and bio diversity is provided by the environment that helps sustain life on earth. All the resources that form a basis for human life are provided by the environment itself. Also, it helps in assimilation of waste. Waste produced by a process is taken as an input for some other natural or even man made process. Here are a few factors that contribute to the environmental depletion in India:

  • Air pollution
  • Biodiversity loss
  • Contamination of water
  • Increasing population
  • Industrialisation
  • Change in lifestyle and consumption patterns
  • Global warming
  • Ozone layer depletion

Out of the above the last two are global environmental issues that is like an alarm warning us to take care of the environment.

The various forms of waste produced through the very many business and manufacturing processes and all the pollutants generated through air, water and land pollution are all seeped into the atmosphere which is so organic that life on earth is made sustainable.

What is sustainability?

The dictionary meaning of the word sustainability reads as under:

‘Avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance’

Thus, sustainability involves utilisation of resources in such a way that resources for the future generations are not wiped out. The ability of the future generations to meet their needs is not compromised. Sustainable development is the economic development in the real sense because it aims at development necessary for the current generation while keeping in mind the resources required for the future generation. However, this does not mean that the current growth is cramped. Thus, without crippling the welfare of the present generation, attempt is made at maximising the welfare of the future generations. So, there is optimum utilisation of resources.

Features of sustainable development:

  • Rational use of natural resources to avoid over exploitation
  • Preservation of natural resources for future generations
  • Rise in economic welfare over the long term
  • Promotion of organic farming
  • Optimum recycling of waste
  • Protecting the natural habitat
  • Renewing the resources of water
  • Attempting to reduce greenhouse gases and thereby reducing global warming

Hindrances to sustainable development

All the hindrances are mainly related to the misuse of the environment and overuse of its resources. Factors such as increased irrigation is leading to drying up of the rivers while increased population is indirectly leading to deforestation and further leading to soil erosion. Unwarranted use of non-renewable sources of energy lead to the misuse of environmental resources.

Unsustainable consumption is prevalent among consumers today. This has to be changed by binging about awareness among the consumers by educating them about the sustainable ways of consumption. Companies should take up the responsibility to guide the consumers towards sustainable behaviour.

Another hindrance to sustainable development is that there exists lack of understanding among people about environmental costs. One should understand that environmental costs show up in the long run that prove to be very disastrous if right action is not taken in time.

Action to be taken

The one thing that needs to be enforced is that people should be made aware of the importance of environment and the need to preserve it. The awareness about the importance of sustainable development helps overcome many barriers discussed above.

  • Extensive research and development is to be taken to come up with better engineering and construction options that are more environmental friendly.
  • Plastic usage has seen a low already. However, consumers should be stricter by saying no to usage of plastic either in the form of bags or straws. This is because as we all know plastic takes about 400 years to decompose and become part of soil. Thus, it only pollutes the soil and our environment.
  • The regulations enforced should be stringent and only then an energy conscious environment can be built.
  • Limiting human population is a very important measure that is required to be implemented right.
  • Quick correction of the inefficiencies arising from pollution of any kind is to be given utmost importance.

By taking measures to ensure sustainable development the present generation can help promote natural progress that also takes care of the environment. Ultimately what one has to always abide by is that we are responsible for the environment around and are answerable to the society of tomorrow. We cannot get away with the fact that the environment is deteriorating and we are not doing the sufficient to protect it. Let’s all be aware and spread awareness to ensure a better tomorrow.

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